For the third consecutive year, a team of Oregon State University
computer science students placed first regionally in the Cyberforce Competition hosted by the Department of Energy on November
15-16, 2019. They competed against 17 teams at Pacific Northwest National
Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, Washington. The team placed sixth in the
nationwide competition, which included over 100 teams.
The team included members from the Oregon State Security Club: Cody Holliday, Ryan Kennedy, Matt Jansen, Khuong Luu, Zach Rogers, and Zander Work. Yeongjin Jang, assistant professor of computer science, advised the team.
“This competition is a highlight of the year for me,” said Zander
Work, president of the OSU Security Club. “I really enjoy getting to test out
my defensive skills in a live environment against a skilled red team. I also
enjoy the added twist of securing some real-world industrial infrastructure,
rather than a typical IT environment.”
The competition simulates a real-world situation in which the teams defend a corporate network infrastructure from professional hackers. Each team built a mock infrastructure including a web server, a file server, a database server, email, and other network operations. During the competition, a group of users utilized the services while the hackers launched attacks. The defending teams had to monitor and respond to the cyberattacks throughout the day and were scored on how well they defended their infrastructure and how well they documented what they had done.
The Oregon State team placed first among six teams from the western U.S. at the regional competition, and placed fourth nationally among 29 teams.
“The competition was a lot of work, but it was also a lot of fun,” said Zander Work, a freshman in computer science who led the team. “The team put in many long nights leading up to the competition to finish hardening our defenses, and it paid off.”
Zander and the other five students who competed — Aidan Grimshaw, Cody Holliday, Khuong Luu, Hadi Rahal-Arabi and Zach Rogers — are all members of the OSU Security Club.
“Although it was a very first time the students participated in such a competition, they did a great job,” said Yeongjin Jang, assistant professor of computer science in the College of Engineering who advised the team. “I was very happy to see the students working hard for an entire month of preparation, not hesitating to tackle difficult tasks, and working well as a team at the competition venue.”